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Queen María Isabel of Braganza as founder of the Museo del Prado
López Piquer, Bernardo
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López Piquer, Bernardo

Valencia, 1799 - Madrid, 1874

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Queen María Isabel of Braganza as founder of the Museo del Prado

1829. Oil on canvas.
Room 101

María Isabel of Braganza was born in Lisbon on 19 May 1797, daughter of John VI of Portugal and Carlota Joaquina of Spain. She became queen of Spain when she married her uncle, Ferdinand VII on 28 September 1816, being his second wife. She died during childbirth in Aranjuez on 26 December 1818. It must be noted that this is a posthumous portrait. The author, son of Vicente López and his most faithful disciple, used as a model, the oval bust portrait that his father had painted of her around 1816, (Museo del Prado, P00869) of which there are several replicas (Díez 1999, II, p. 436 – p. 441). The queen has her hair arranged in an imperial style and wears a gold-embroidered red velvet dress with floral motifs. She bears the badge and sash of the Order of Saint Catherine, award of Empress of Russia Maria Feodorovna. The sash of the Spanish Order of Maria Luisa, as well as the oval badge of the feminine Austrian Order of the Starry Cross. On the right, the coat of arms of the two royal families are depicted, with a crown and a Golden Fleece. Moreover, the queen’s initials, IB, are embroidered on the backrest of the chair.

Special mention shall hereby receive the particular iconography of the portrait, where the queen is represented as the founder of the Real Museo de Pintura y Escultura, now known as the Museo del Prado. The building can be perceived through the window from a north-westerly perspective, with the same appearance it had when it was inaugurated in 1819. Isabel of Braganza was a fine arts lover, she was a painter and an outstanding academic member and counsellor of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. She also maintained great interest in the conversion of the Juan de Villanueva building, originally intended to house the Natural History Cabinet, into an art museum. In the catalogue of the paintings of the Real Museo of 1854, Pedro de Madrazo goes so far as to say that it was the queen who suggested the idea [to the King], due to the excitement [sic] of some people fond of the noble arts, and the King welcomed it with true enthusiasm (p. 8, note). With her left hand, she points to some plans spread out on the nightstand decorated with winged lions. The sketch performed by Bernardo López, before painting it in oil, (of which an autograph repetition in watercolour signed and dated by the painter in 1828 was exhibited at the Galería Guillermo de Osma, Madrid, in 1997), presents some interesting differences with regard to the final painting. In the plans over the table, various floors of the buildings are depicted. Meanwhile, elevations of the rooms alongside the placement of the paintings are herein represented. This detail shall be undoubtedly interpreted as testimony to a much more than superficial interest from the queen in the Prado’s museology. Unfortunately, she was not able to witness the opening ceremony of the Museum, which took place almost a year after her untimely death. This splendid neoclassical formal portrait, which retains its original carved and gilt frame, appears to have drawn inspiration from French models by Robert Lefèvre (1755–1830) and Baron Gérard (1770–1837). Given the sensitive interpretation of character and his special cultural role, as well as the carefulness taken in the organisation of the composition and in the representation of objects and textures, Bernardo has left us an emblematic image for the history of our Museo del Prado.

Finaldi, G., La reina María Isabel de Braganza, como fundadora del Museo del Prado (1829). En: Barón, J.: El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2007, p.88, n. 16

Technical data

Inventory number
López Piquer, Bernardo
Queen María Isabel of Braganza as founder of the Museo del Prado
Height: 258 cm; Width: 174 cm
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey Fernado VII, Madrid, 1834, pp. 69/ nº15.

Beroqui, Pedro, Apuntes para la historia del Museo del Prado, Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Excursiones, 39, 1931, pp. 94.

Lage, F., Vida e Arte Do Povo Portugues, Secretariado Da Propaganda Nacion, Lisboa, 1940, pp. 23.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas del siglo XIX, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1985, pp. 118.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Finaldi, G., La reina María Isabel de Braganza, como fundadora del Museo del Prado (1829). En: Barón, J.: El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2007, pp. 88, n. 16.

Benito, Pilar, 'Bernardo López Piquer. Maria Isabella of Braganza. Quuen of Spain as founder of the Museo del Prado. (col.privada)' En:, A Shared History. Treasures from the Royal Palaces of Spain., Patrimonio Nacional - Calouste Gulbenkian Museu., Lisboa, 2014, pp. 318-319 n.137.

Castillo Álvarez, Silvia, Marcos, muebles y maderas: obras de carpintería, ebasnistería y enmarcado en el Museo del Prado (1818-38), Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXIII (51), 2015, pp. 100-111 [104, 106-107 f.5].

Díez, José Luis (dir.), Pintura del Siglo XIX en el Museo del Prado: catálogo general, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 324.

Martínez Plaza, P, J, El gabinete de descanso de sus majestades, Museo Nacional del Prado,, Madrid, 2019.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1964.
Bernardo Lopez (firmado) / 1964. Retrato de Isabel de Braganza, esposa de Fernando 7º. / Alto 9 pies, 1 pulg; Ancho 6 pies, 2 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 773g.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 863.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 863.

Inscriptions +

Bernardo Lopez f.t /Año de 1829
Inscribed in dark color. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

I B [monograma formado por las iniciales de la reina cruzadas, en el bordado de la tapicería, en el bracero del recamier]

Exhibitions +

History of the Museo del Prado and its Buildings
17.03.2021 - ...

Their Majesties’ Retiring Room
09.04.2019 - 12.10.2021

Museo del Prado 1819-2019. A place of memory
19.11.2018 - 10.03.2019

Meta-painting. A Journey to the Idea of Art
15.11.2016 - 19.02.2017

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
La Coruña
11.06.2008 - 07.09.2008

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
12.03.2008 - 25.05.2008

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
18.12.2007 - 24.02.2008

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
12.06.2007 - 02.09.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
05.03.2007 - 20.05.2007

Location +

Room 101 (Temporary Exhibition)

Exposición Temporal

Displayed objects +

Order of the Starred Cross (or Military order of Maria Teresa of Austria)

Royal Order of Noble Ladies of Queen María Luisa



Chair / Armchair

Update date: 07-07-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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